Seattle Day Trips

Mount Rainier / Unsplash

Here are a few ideas for day trips from Seattle. If you like any of them, I can elaborate and look into restaurants more.

Leavenworth and Snoqualmie Falls

It’s a little over two hours across the Cascades to reach Leavenworth, a charming traditional Bavarian town faithfully recreated in Washington State. The scenic old town merits a couple of hours of exploration, and for lunch, you can enjoy German classics such as sauerkraut and bratwurst at one of the many restaurants. Have an ice cream and enjoy some shopping before heading back towards Seattle. It’s easy to include a stopover at Snoqualmie Falls on the return trip.

Leavenworth sounds really busy on summer weekends, so the timing will be good when you’re there.

Whidby Island

Whidby Island is the largest island in Washington and still has a rural feel despite being a 15-minute ferry ride from North Seattle. Start your drive at the ferry on the south end of the island and work your way north to avoid afternoon traffic. Along the way, enjoy great views of the ocean from the gun battlements at Fort Casey or the beaches of Deception Pass. Have lunch at the Shrimp Shack or in Anacortes before taking the bridge back to the mainland. It’s a little under four hours of driving round trip. There is a Taylor Shellfish Farms in Bow which isn’t very far from the north end of Bainbridge if you want to extend the drive.

Bainbridge Island

Bloedel Reserve

Bainbridge is a 30-minute scenic ferry ride from downtown Seattle. It’s not required, but I recommend bringing your car to take advantage of everything you can see on the island. The 150 acres of gardens at the Bloedel Reserve are really beautiful – a must-see. Beyond that, you should explore the shops and restaurants in the small downtown area. Mora has great ice cream, and Proper Fish has good fish and chips. If you can stay into the afternoon, stop at Eagle Harbor Wine or Eleven Winery for a tasting.

Mount Rainier

Christine Falls near Mount Rainier / Unsplash
Christine Falls near Mount Rainier / Unsplash

This is the longest drive option, maybe 5-6 hours round trip, but it’s really pretty, as you know. If you’re going, it would be good to leave early and pack snacks. Fortunately, the summer crowds should be gone when you get there. Focus on the Paradise section of the park. The 1 mile Nisqually Vista Trail has a really pretty overlook and is a nice start to the day. From there, you can stop at Myrtle Falls, Ruby Falls, and Narada Falls. They are less than one-mile hikes or have overlooks. You can also see Christine Falls from the road.

In the afternoon, take a gondola at the nearby Crystal Mountain resort for a great view of Rainier. You can also get lunch at the resort. End the day back in the national park at Tipsoo Lake and/or Sunrise Point.


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